Take a holiday without spending a fortune with these helpful resources and insider tips.
Sri Lanka seems like an inexpensive country… and it can be… until you get there and hear the price asked for food at your hotel, local driver from place to place and must-do activities. Although Sri Lanka is still way cheaper than other Asian countries like Japan or China, life as a tourist, can very quickly get very expensive. Here are a few tips to make your stay affordable and more local-like.
WATCH THE FLIGHTS
One of the largest expenses of any trip is the initial cost of a plane ticket which can be hard to swallow. First thing is to choose an off-peak time to travel. Try not to travel during school holidays. Typically, the cheapest flights will be between May – July but if you do need to travel during school holidays or between December – March then watching flights is the best thing for you.
Fortunately, a number of budget airlines, including AirAsia, Malaysian Airlines and others have routes to Sri Lanka. Budget airlines often advertise sales several months in advance, so sign up for email alerts to receive messages about possible deals.
Local food is produced with seasonal goods, which local people know how to cook. Is it the mango season? That means markets are filled with tons of mangos and the price goes down, so eat mangos.
Eating at your hotel is rather expensive – like 8 times more expensive! Don’t miss out on the local flavours and delicious food. Either visit a lunch buffet (these usually offer large portions at lower prices) or make your way to a street food stall or cafe. These local restaurants/cafes/stalls serve cheap dishes like hoppers, roti, curries and short-eats at a fraction of restaurant prices.
DRIVER, TRAIN, BUS, TUK TUK OR SELF-DRIVE
Personally, I wouldn’t self-drive. I consider myself a great driver but there is no way I would drive in Sri Lanka as I find it too stressful and then I can’t appreciate the countryside and sites.
Tuk-Tuks are, without a doubt, the best way to get from A to B when travelling small distances, like from your hotel to the restaurants or just around a city. Otherwise, if you choose to take a tuk-tuk on a longer drive from destination to destination then it will be uncomfortable and you will need to have little luggage.
Local buses and trains are a fantastic way to travel in Sri Lanka and are very cheap. This is definitely your cheapest option when traveling from destination to destination and the views can be breath-taking!
I love getting a driver when travelling Sri Lanka. They are knowledgeable, kind and will help you with everything from booking activities to showing you the best local places to eat. Yes, it is more expensive, however if you are moving from destination to destination regularly or you have kids with you, then I highly recommend getting a driver.
One of the most important aspects of budget travel is finding the right accommodation. Sri Lanka has plenty of price options when it comes to accommodation but to maximize value, look for free breakfast.
One of the things I love about Sri Lanka is the range of boutique villas, homely guesthouses and independent hotels that make your stay in Sri Lanka as wonderful as the sights you go to see.
Always look at different online booking sites such as Expedia, Booking.com and AirBnB. They will all have different hotels, villas etc on their websites but remember to make sure that all taxes are included. Accommodation providers in Sri Lanka love to add up to 28% taxes so when booking, confirm that it is the final price.
BARGIN BARGAIN BARGAIN
Bargaining is something which many Westerners find very uncomfortable. We are use to reading a price tag on something and deciding whether we can afford it/want to buy it. If we do we buy it, if we don’t we walk away.
In Sri Lanka it is not like that. Almost anything can be bargained, from bags, clothes, tuk-tuk rides, food, night in a hotel, and even postcards. The price the seller gives you is a starting point for negotiation.
You will almost never pay the local price for something, and I think that is fair enough. You are on holidays and probably come from a more expensive country, have more money etc., so I don’t think it is problematic to pay more than locals. However paying 5 times the price can feel like one has been fooled.
Don’t buy the first thing you see – I promise there will be more and you will be able to get a feel for what the ‘true’ price should be. Shop around, be fair and bargain.
Sri Lanka can be a cost-effective destination—even for the budget traveller. With a proper plan, you can make this captivating Asian country your next holiday destination, with money left to spare. Have a great trip!